A new high-speed Internet product is coming to you soon: Comcast Extreme 105. Extreme 105 is providing Internet download speeds of up to 105 megabits per second and upload speeds of 10 Mbps. For me as an “Internet junkie” these numbers are very interesting, but they also raise the question who really needs this kind of speed for their Internet connection? Do you need it and should you pay Comcast $105 per month for it?
At the moment my personal opinion about this new Internet package from Comcast is split. For one the speed is faster than what many web servers are able to deliver. Also, you need to keep in mind that this is the so-called “last mile” of access to the Internet and even though you have the speed option, the limitations that will slow you down are beyond your control. An additional concern that I have is that Comcast is known to limit the overall amount of data that you can download. On their traditional high-speed Internet options this limit is fairly low with 250 GB. Faster Internet speeds might just push you closer to this artificial ceiling faster. And then my main concern is how is Comcast going to treat the different types of data or traffic that you are using?
As an example I use Netflix for watching movies that I stream from the Internet onto my TV at home. Many movies and shows are available in HD (High Definition) and that creates quite some data volume. I am barely watching cable TV at all and so my concern is how Comcast will treat traffic related to competing products like Netflix. Comcast does not earn a single cent from me if I watch Netflix, Hulu, or TV Shows through iTunes. In the past Comcast is known to limit traffic speeds for certain types of traffic and would Comcast do the same to traffic coming from sources like Netflix?
There were also discussions in the past where Comcast and other (mainly) cable Internet providers want extra money from companies like Netflix to have their traffic being carried on their Internet infrastructure. What this really means is that the Internet Service Provider can charge content providers extra fees or completely prevent them from being accessible from their infrastructure. In that moment it is not your choice anymore, but the choice of your ISP of what you can do or not do with your Internet connection. And to close the loop, companies like Comcast make more money by selling you over-priced cable TV packages or On-Demand content than from selling you a high-speed Internet connection. For me, that is an obvious conflict of interest and makes me concerned about using Comcast as my Internet Service Provider.
Back to the question if you really need such fast Internet connections as the Extreme 105? In a few years, you definitely want one of those. Right now the speed benefits are minimal and you are over-paying for what you get in return. I personally think that this product is over-priced. Let’s take a look over the pond to Europe. One of the largest ISPs in Germany just announced a similar product with actually better speeds for roughly half the price of what Comcast is asking for. Even if you would buy the premium package over there, you still pay 30%-40% less and you get extra On-Demand content and even faster speeds, too.
Conclusion: Hold off from spending your money on Comcast’s Extreme 105 for now unless you really have a very specific need to justify the steep price. While I personally like higher Internet speeds, for one there are too many unknowns in regards to Comcast and at the current time there is not enough value coming out of this. Let’s revisit in 6-12 months and take a second stab at it.